Taxes on common grocery items such as beverages are widely disliked. This has been shown in places such as Philadelphia, where people opposed a tax voted in by their City Council, and most recently Santa Fe, where voters rejected a beverage tax in a special election this week. A recent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal describes it perfectly, saying, “Santa Fe’s poor reject a tax on sugary drinks peddled by the rich.”
The tax would have added a staggering two cents per ounce tax on beverages like soda, juice drinks, teas, sports drinks and lemonades, doubling or even tripling the costs of some beverages. Working-class Santa Fe residents and local business owners rose up against the idea, complaining about the price hikes and the damage it would do to jobs and the local economy. Outside political forces spent big bucks to impose a tax they would never pay.
Santa Feans were not fooled. They came out to vote in record numbers and defeated the tax 58-42 percent.
As The Wall Street Journal put it, “voters figured out this was a politician-knows-best tax posing as a public-health initiative.” Beverage taxes are needlessly divisive, placing a larger share of the tax burden on people least capable of paying it. There has to be better ways to fund budget priorities than a harmful tax like this.